The public consultation period in the plan to register a new strain of rabbit calicivirus dubbed K5 is open to the end of January.
The deadline is January 29 after consultations opened on Christmas Eve.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) says a new naturally occurring strain of rabbit calicivirus from Korea will boost the existing rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV1) strain.
In the Shoalhaven, biological control of rabbits has been limited to the use of Pindone since last August, awaiting registration of the new calici strain by APVMA.
However the City Council did not expect K5 would be available immediately after registration.
“It would be a controlled release and we’re not expecting immediate access,” said Works and Services Manager Tony Fraser.
“We will review the discussion paper and research how [the virus] could be used in existing programs.”
Mr Fraser said council was permitted to use the previous strain in bait material.
Council’s role is to coordinate community groups, including private landowners willing to help control rabbits, and to ensure they have the basic training required to release biological controls.
The government body that oversees land management in NSW, Local Land Services (LLS) regards the council as a leader in rabbit control.
“SCC's program is an excellent example of how councils could more effectively address the pest rabbit problem and the benefits to the community could be more widespread,” said LLS senior biosecurity officer based at Berry, Charlie Signorelli.
Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says a government and industry partnership searched the globe and identified the new K5 strain as a safe and effective new rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus.
“The Korean K5 calicivirus represents advances in the management of rabbit populations in the wild,” he said.
“This strain has been carefully assessed by government and industry. It infects only the European rabbit and a vaccine is available from veterinarians for the protection of valuable rabbits that are farmed or kept as domestic pets.”
Mr Joyce says wild rabbits cause an estimated $206 million in losses each year to farmers, devastate the natural environment and potentially threaten over 300 endangered native species.
Public consultation closes on Friday January 29, 2016. Stakeholders and members of the public should visit the APVMA website http://apvma.gov.au/node/19461 for full details.
The Draft varied threat abatement plan for competition and land degradation by rabbits is open for comment until 16 March 2016. Consideration of rabbit biological controls including calicivirus is one part of that plan.